Diplomatist: India will receive a delegation from Guinea this month. What is the agenda for the visiting delegation?
Dr. Aminata Thiam: I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to express myself in your media and to address millions of readers through your columns. To answer your question directly, the Guinean delegation that we have the honour to receive very shortly is coming to take part in the 18th edition of the CII-EXIM BANK Conclave on the India-Africa Growth Partnership. It will be led by the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Mrs. Rose Pola PRICEMOU.
As you may be aware, over the past seventeen (17) years, the Conclave has played a key role in the India-Africa partnership, because it has been an opportunity to encourage Indian companies to set up and develop their activities in Africa. Given that the 18th edition of the Conclave will focus on trade, investment and the exchange of knowledge and expertise between India and Africa, our delegation would like to meet high profile personalities in India, from both public and private sectors in order to discuss ways of improving bilateral relations between India and Guinea.
Diplomatist: What are the key industries in Guinea?
Dr. Aminata Thiam: According to the 2018 statistical yearbook of Industry and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) provided by the Strategy and Development Office of the Guinean Ministry of Trade, Industry and SMEs, the number of industrial companies registered with the CNSS (National Social Security Fund), amounts to 450 companies. If I may, they can be grouped into 4 categories:
Diplomatist: Which are the areas where Guinea and India can mutually work in partnership?
Dr. Aminata Thiam: The sectors and areas in which Guinea and India can mutually cooperate are: (1) agriculture, (2); infrastructure and energy; (3) Information and Communication technologies; (4) education, culture, vocational and technical training, (5) medicine and the pharmaceutical industry; (6) transport and mining; (7) trade, industry and SMEs.
Diplomatist: Could you highlight the investment climate and opportunities in your country for the foreign investors?
Dr. Aminata Thiam: A land of opportunities with diversified economic, agricultural, mining and touristic potentials, after years of Ebola, COVID-19 and, in 2021, Marburg fever, which have seriously impacted the country’s economy, Guinea has undertaken several reforms. The dynamic reforms launched by the new transitional authorities, headed by President of the Transition, His Excellency Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, have resulted in remarkable economic performance, while at the same time making the country more attractive to foreign investment. Below are some of the business opportunities:
Ease of doing business: companies can be set up in 72 hours, foreigners can own companies and there are easy mechanisms for repatriating funds.
Low cost of investment factors: (land, water, electricity, labour, low-cost “natural” materials and inputs, etc.)
A safe and secure destination for investment: existence of a new investor code, an economic and social development plan (PNDES), rapidly expanding infrastructure, a Commercial Court, and compliance with OHADA standards and other international treaties.
Continuous improvement of the business environment: digitalisation of the administration, implementation of anti-corruption measures.
A market with a strong sub-regional outlet: possible access to 1.3 billion consumers (African Union & FTAA) and six (6) Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) border countries for 340 million potential customers.
Guinea’s mining resources are world class in terms of quality, quantity and diversity including: Bauxite (2/3 of the world’s deposits and the world’s second largest exporter), iron ore (world-class deposits such as Simandou mining), Gold, Diamond, Silver, Manganese, Granit, etc. Since 2010, more than USD 42 billion in terms of contracts have been signed, with huge opportunities for subcontracting and service provision.
Diplomatist: What steps have been taken to promote Guinea to the Indian public to familiarize them with the richness of the opportunities?
Dr. Aminata Thiam: Even though meetings with the local media are not intensive enough, however, since the opening of our Embassy in New Delhi in 2012, we have undertaken several initiatives aimed at making Guinea better known to the Indian public.
In addition to the high-level international meetings and conferences organised in India and aimed at strengthening and intensifying economic relations and deepening the partnership for development, we have actively participated in all the CII-EXIM BANK conclaves on the India-Africa partnership since the opening of our Embassy in 2012. These various conclaves, during which we have always set up a stand, have also been an opportunity to showcase the image of Guinea, its business opportunities and its economic and cultural wealth.
Culturally, Guinea has much to offer Indian audiences. In traditional dance the internationally acclaimed Ballets Africains de Guinée made Guinea proud around the world. The same goes for the Instrumental Ensemble of Guinea.
In addition to cultural wealth, we also have economic wealth. Guinea has significant hydroelectric potentials, a rich mining resources (2/3 of the world’s bauxite reserves, i.e. 75% of the world’s deposits, Gold, Diamond, high-quality Iron ore, Manganese, Zinc, Cobalt, Nickel, Uranium) that is still unexploited.
On the diplomatic front, there have been major progress. Two (2) memorandums of understanding and two (2) cooperation agreements have already been signed between India and Guinea. In addition to these international agreements, there have been official visits by the Indian Minister of External Affairs to Guinea and the Guinean Ministers of Foreign Affairs to India. The President of Guinea, His Excellency ALPHA CONDE, has also visited India, and the President of the Republic of India, His Excellency RAM NATH KOVIND to Guinea.
Diplomatist: How does the world see Guinea?
Dr. Aminata Thiam: Guinea has been the first French-speaking country in sub-saharian region to say no to the French colonial system through a referendum organised on 28 September 1958. This historic act was at the root of the independence movements across the African continent. Deprived of aid from France, Guinea turned to the countries of the former USSR and China, with which it established and maintained diplomatic and cooperation relations.
Guinea has experienced three presidential regimes. The first regime was led by President Amed Sekou Toure, which lasted 26 years. After his death, General Lansana, who took power on 03 April 1984, lasted 24 years. Alpha Conde was the first democratically elected President. He served two five-year terms, but during early months of his third undemocratic tenure, it seemed that Guineans were not happy by his bad governance and there was a lot of unrest in the country so in order to maintain law and order and to fight against corruption His Excellency Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya decided, on 05 September 2021, to assume his responsibilities and liberate the people.
With the National Committee of the Unity for Development, [Comité National du Rassemblement pour le Développement (CNRD)], His Excellency Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, President of the Transition, Head of State, Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces, has undertaken institutional and economic reforms, which includes: (i) the promulgation of the Charter of the Transition (the legislative body and the basis of any government in the transition period); (ii) the appointment of a civilian Head of Government; (iii) the presentation by the Prime Minister of the roadmap for the Transition Government; (iv) the establishment of the National Council for Transition (CNT) and the appointment of the members of its bureau; (v) the creation and installation of the Court for the Repression of Economic and Financial Offences (CRIEF); (vi) the launch of legal proceedings against citizens suspected of embezzlement of public funds and blood crimes.
As part of the rebuilding of the State and a rapid return to constitutional order, President Mamadi Doumbouya submitted to ECOWAS a timetable for 24-month transition, which came into effect from January 2023.